4 Tips to Ignite Better Results With Your Facilitation Style

When a trainer's facilitation style aligns with the subject, the recipient grows from the material and from the embodiment of the material.

Training Magazine

Fact: training is vital for supporting the growth of our people. It’s also a fact that training is only as effective as the facilitator. When a trainer’s facilitation style aligns with the subject at hand, the recipients not only grow from the material, but from the embodiment of the material. And when it’s not, it’s often received as another box-checking exercise with no accountability for follow-through.

So how can we as trainers better align with ourselves, the material, and our participants?

Here are four tips on how to improve your impact the next time you facilitate.

  1. Embody Your Values

Many organizations have well-crafted values written on their walls and websites. Unfortunately, that’s typically as far as they go. According to Brene Brown’s research in Dare to Lead, less than 10 percent of organizations truly live their values. Meaning that 90 percent of leaders don’t practice what their values preach. As some who wants to embrace conscious leadership, this is a perfect place to start.

Review your values and ask yourself, “Do I behave in alignment with what this value represents? Where am I doing well, and where can I improve?” If you’re ready to take it a step further, ask participants to provide you with feedback. You can even do it anonymously if you feel it would solicit more direct responses.

Something as simple as a survey that says: On a scale of 1-10, how aligned was my facilitation with our value of ____? What else would you like to share about the score you selected?

You can repeat that for each value that you have, and be sure to include the definition of each value, so people aren’t making up their own interpretation of the word.

  1. Create Psychological Safety.

In case you’re unfamiliar, psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. As a facilitator, you can model this by taking on the 5 tips outlined in this article and starting with yourself.

Consider asking yourself: Do I feel safe to speak my truth? Do I have confidence in how to handle questions, concerns, or mistakes? What’s my default response when someone calls me out? Is there room for me to grow?

When you can create psychological safety within yourself through authenticity, vulnerability, and purpose by being who you are, you subconsciously are giving others permission to be the same. You can’t genuinely create that with others if you don’t have it with yourself first.

  1. Have People-First Guidelines.

While guidelines are obvious to some, they’re obviously missing to others. As trainers, it’s key that before you dive into the content of what you have to teach that you create a safe container for each student to have clear expectations of their and others’ behaviors. Here are my go-to people-first guidelines that I offer as a starting place for yourself:

  • Take the Wisdom, Leave the Details– this is key for psychological safety! It’s the concept that you’re allowed to take any/all wisdom from the work at hand, but you’re not going to share the details of who said what. After reading through this statement I always ask the participants to say “I agree” out loud for everyone to hear.
  • Meet Yourself Where You Are, Not Where you Want to Be – Most people want a quick hit of possibility to make it across the finish line of the success sprint, but that’s not realistic when it comes to learning and embracing a new skill. This guideline is to empower people to “build their own adventure” and take personal responsibility for meeting themselves at a place that’s realistic so they can truly make progress.
  • Listen to Your Body – Your body is constantly giving you messages about what’s going on inside. A headache, a sore neck, tight shoulders, or even pent-up energy is a sign that something needs to change. Allow your students to listen to their bodies and respond without asking for permission. You need to go to the restroom, go! You need to get fresh air, step away! Listen and respond to your body so you can be fully present from a place of consciousness.
  • Check-In with Your Mindset – Mindset is everything when it comes to the success of trainees! If they think they know it all, they won’t grow. If they think they’re a total failure, they won’t see the possibility of success. Teach your group how to listen to the stories they’re telling themselves and then choose one that serves them. Have regular mindset check-ins throughout so you can squash limiting beliefs on purpose!
  1. Don’t take it personally.

This is one of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. When we learn how to allow things to be what they are and not take them personally, years of burn roll off our shoulders. I once had someone in a training say to me, “I really hate that you keep saying, “beautiful” as a response to people’s feedback!” He was clearly annoyed, pissed, and on the verge of being totally checked out. It was the perfect time to reel him back in. Since I didn’t take this as a personal attack, I was able to ask him a series of questions to get us on the same page, in front of the whole group. It sounded something like this:

Me: What is it about that word that frustrates you?

Him: Everything IS NOT beautiful and it’s annoying that you think it is!

Me: I can understand that. If you would have had me here just a year ago, I likely wouldn’t be using that word as a response. I didn’t think things were inherently beautiful but after doing a lot of inner work, that’s how I see things now. And we all see things differently according to our life experiences. It’s that simple and complex.

Him: Oh….

Me: I actually think this conversation is quite beautiful. You allowed everyone here to have permission to speak up about what’s holding them back. And I’m so grateful you were able to articulate it. How would you describe that experience?

Him: I’d say that counts as beautiful.

If these tips resonate with you, it’s likely because you’re on a journey to give yourself and others permission to be human. You’re ready to own your mistakes with grace, grow and thrive as a result of candid feedback. And honor your own evolution in becoming the embodiment of possibility for those who get to work with you. So keep honoring what makes you perfectly imperfect, meet yourself where you are, ignite self-compassion, set boundaries, and live out the values that you wish for others to experience with you. Just remember to do it one step at a time, without judgment of pace.

Author, speaker, and award-winning company culture expert MARYBETH HYLAND found her passion as a facilitator and mindfulness coach, engaging with leaders within all industries to create possibility and ignite alignment between their values and their actions. MaryBeth is the founder and chief visionary of SparkVision and her awards include Circle of Excellence, Innovator of the Year, and Top 100 Women. With a BA in Social Work, MS in Nonprofit Management, and over a decade of experience transforming workplace cultures into flourishing and connected communities, she is committed to values-based mindfulness in the workplace. The Washington Post, HuffPost, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal have recognized her as a powerful thought leader in workplace culture. MaryBeth is the author of Amazon's #1 new release in Workplace Behavior, Permission to Be Human: A Conscious Leader's Guide to Creating a Values-Driven Culture.